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From traditional to companionate marriages: women's changing experience of marriage and divorce in Ireland

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Dominant macro social theories on changing personal relationships have tended to place little emphasis on the significance of difference across individuals. This article makes a contribution to this field, drawing on data from 19 qualitative interviews with a group of middle-class divorcing women in Ireland. This research has uncovered a cohort effect in women's experience of marriage and divorce and points to a striking polarisation of women's experience of marriage and divorce in Ireland. Findings from the Ireland-wide trends on changing family practices and the case studies demonstrate that younger women, who were better educated and higher income earners, perceived separation as a form of 'liberation'. On the other hand, the older cohort of divorcees, who were less well educated and dependent spouses during the marriage, felt that they were actively abandoned and did not negotiate the ending of their marriage.
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Keywords: AGENCY; DEMOCRATISATION; DIVORCE; INDIVIDUALISATION; MARITAL BREAKDOWN

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-11-01

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